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Indonesia students rally again to protest planned changes to laws

Student protesters are seen during a rally against government-proposed changes in criminal code laws and plans to weaken the anti-corruption commission, in Surabaya, East Java Province, Indonesia, on September 25, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Indonesian students have continued protests for the third consecutive day over government plans to introduce sweeping changes to the Muslim-majority country’s laws.

Clashes erupted between police and student demonstrators in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, on Wednesday as the latter attempted to march to the parliament building.

At least 200 high school students were arrested for not possessing a protest permit, police spokesman Argo Yuwono said.

Some of those detained were carrying petrol bombs, Jakarta police chief Gatot Eddy Pramono told reporters.

Clashes took place during similar rallies on Tuesday, when police fired tear gas and water cannon to break up rallies in Jakarta and other cities. Police said more than 250 demonstrators and nearly 40 police officers had been sent to the hospital with minor injuries.

​Indonesian riot police face off with protesters in Bandung, Indonesia, on September 24, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

The rallies — which are among the biggest anti-government demonstrations since 1998 — were organized in response to a proposed criminal-code overhaul that critics say would impose draconian curbs on civil liberties and weaken the country’s anti-corruption agency, the KPK.

On Friday, President Joko Widodo called for a delay in passing the new criminal code, which could affect millions of Indonesians, saying a new parliament should deliberate on the bill next month.

The students want some of those changes dropped.

They also demand a ban on military or police personnel taking up public posts, the withdrawal of troops from Indonesia’s unrest-hit Papua region, the release of Papuan political prisoners, and the quick extinguishing of forest fires in Sumatra and Borneo, which have unleashed toxic haze across Southeast Asia.

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